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504 | Accelerating Speech: How We Learned to Talk Faster and Faster
504 | Accelerating Speech: How We Learned to Talk Faster and Faster
Sat, Nov 5 | 12 – 1 PM
The Newberry Library, Ruggles Hall
60 W Walton St | Chicago, IL | 60610
  • Members: $10
  • Public: $12
  • Students and Teachers: $5

Speech gained momentum in the 1970s, thanks to the commercialization of "time compressors" that allowed tape recordings to be accelerated without changing pitch. Initially designed for blind readers of Talking Books, time compression began to be employed in radio commercials, television shows, museum displays, sound art, and foreign language cassette courses. Media historian Mara Mills talks about what happens when the pace of speech is no longer controlled by the speaker and when words per minute surge across mass media.

This program is presented in partnership with the Karla Scherer Center for the Study of American Culture at the University of Chicago, The Newberry Library, and New York University Center for the Humanities.


Mara Mills is Associate Professor of Media, Culture, and Communication at New York University, working at the intersection of disability studies and media studies. Her first book, On the Phone: Deafness and Communication Engineering, is forthcoming in 2017 from Duke University Press. Mills’s writings on electroacoustics, audiovisual media, and disability can be found in Grey Room, differences, Social Text, and The Sound Studies Reader, among other volumes.

  • 1966; 1963; 1991